Letters of the Law

Judges should keep friends, on Facebook and in the real world

[This letter was written to columnist Bill Haltom.] I thoroughly enjoyed your column in the TBJ about the proposed Florida Ethics Opinion prohibiting lawyers and judges for being "friends" on Facebook (But Seriously, Folks, "If You Are a Judge, You Better Get a Dog," February 2010). It is ridiculous! And, one thing that can keep judges from getting too isolated from the real world that the rest of us humans live in, is to not make them isolate themselves from hundreds of friends made over a law career. And those "friends" will often be on opposite sides of issues in front of their "friend" the judge, but that doesn't affect the judge's rulings, and it shouldn't affect their friendships. Of course, even if judges in Florida have to "unfriend" their lawyer friends on FB in the cyber world, let's hope they still keep them in the real world!

— Charles Huddleston, Memphis

What 'Udom' decision means

I read with interest the article by Edward G. Phillips, entitled "Non-Compete Agreement: It's Not All About You, Employers," published in the February 2010 Tennessee Bar Journal, vol., 46, no.2.

Particularly, in reference to the citation to Murfreesboro Med Clinic P.A. V. Udom, at 166 S.w.3d. 674, same is cited for the proposition that physician covenants not to compete are unenforceable as against the public's interest in continuity of health care.

I do not believe that is quite an accurate description of what the Udom decision means. In January 2008, Tennessee passed the statute which validates certain non-competition covenants with physicians and other health care providers. This statute endorses two types of non-competition restrictions: the first restiction allows limitations on a provider's right to practice his or her profession after the purchase or sale of the provider's practice, but that restriction only applies to medical doctors, except for physicians specializing in emergency medicine or radiology, podiatrists, chiropractors, dentists, optometrists and psychologists. This statute was prompted by the Tennessee Supreme Court's decision in the Udom case.

I humbly suggest that the intent behind the new statue clearly is to allow for such covenants beginning in 2008, and one could argue that Udom merely clarified the law regarding such covenants, making those entered into prior to Jan. 1, 2008, unenforceable. So to state that the case stands for the proposition that physician covenants not to compete as being unenforceable is too broad of a brush statement.

— Stephen H. Biller, Memphis